Aristocrat mother on the run with her rapist partner and their newborn baby, friend reveals
An aristocratic mother who is on the run with her rapist partner and their newborn child has been traumatized by a charismatic Nigerian evangelical church leader, a friend has revealed.
Constance Marten, 35, is said to have spent around six months living in Nigeria and working for controversial pastor TB Joshua, becoming one of his so-called ‘disciples’ around the time she went to college .
A family friend said Ms Marten, whose family owned the £100million Crichel House estate on 5,000 acres in Dorset, appeared “traumatized” upon returning to the UK.
The friend, who we do not name at her request, said she believed Ms Marten had now fallen under the influence of her partner Mark Gordon, 49, who spent 20 years in a US prison for the rape and the abduction of a young woman during a 1989 stabbing.
Ms Constance Marten (pictured) was traumatized by a charismatic Nigerian Evangelical church leader, a friend has revealed
Ms Marten and her partner Mark Gordon have been missing since January 5 after their car broke down and caught fire on the M61. The couple were seen walking off the highway with their newborn baby
She added that Ms Marten had become almost completely estranged from her family after discovering Gordon’s background as a sex offender and unsuccessfully trying to get her away from him.
The prophecies and teachings of Joshua, who died aged 57 in June 2021, have attracted tens of thousands of followers, including sports stars and high profile politicians from Africa and Latin America.
The pastor described as ‘the prophet’ was known for his repeated claims that his prayers could help heal the sick through the ‘supernatural power of God bringing health to human flesh’.
Constance Marten – pictured again at the 2013 party – has been missing for two weeks
Constance Marten, pictured right, at the Mist Mag party in 2013 with two other women
Ms Marten, nicknamed Toots by friends, is said to have joined Joshua after taking an Evangelical-style course, exploring Christian beliefs in London.
Her friend said, “She ended up becoming one of his disciples in Nigeria. I believe she was brainwashed while she was there. The experience traumatized her.
She wasn’t the same when she came back. She has always been wild, but also happy, kind and dynamic. She was darker when she came back and she found it harder
She never told us what really happened. TB Joshua was a God-like figure. It was scary, and I think it changed her. It was a big part of his life.
“Toots used to travel a lot from a young age, but when she returned from Nigeria, relations with her family were strained.
“She was always exuberant in everything, but she found relationships very difficult. It was as if she was coming back completely ruined. She was more rebellious. She thought she had recovered, but it was hard for her.
The friend, who has known her since childhood, said Ms Marten planned to do “a TV show” about Joshua and his techniques after joining English international news channel Al Jazeera as a senior researcher in 2012.
Ms. Marten’s LinkedIn profile, describing her work with Al Jazeera, also suggests this was the case: “I floated an idea for a documentary about a religious cult in Nigeria.
“Tracked down former cult members, in the UK, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, to gather solid first-hand information.”
Ms Marten, whose grandmother Mary Marten was a goddaughter of the late Queen Mother and attended brownies at Buckingham Palace with Princess Margaret, also alluded to the trauma she suffered in Nigeria in a post on Facebook in 2013.
She commented on a blog detailing the experiences of a woman called Beth who wrote about the “lasting psychological effect” of spending 18 months as a church “disciple” which she described as “the worst experiences of my life”.
Ms Marten praised the blog in her post, dated April 2, 2013, when she said, “Beth, THANK YOU!” The result of being involved in a cult has huge effects on a person when she escapes.
Police released this photo of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11.45am on January 7
“Your character is completely broken, and it’s hard to explain to others, thank you xxxxx.”
Ms Marten is believed to have kept her pregnancy with her baby a secret by moving between various Airbnb properties to evade the attention of authorities.
But concern for her grew just a day after giving birth when her car and that of her Birmingham-born partner Gordon caught fire on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester.
They traveled to Liverpool before heading to Harwich, Essex and nearby Colchester and then east London as police made desperate pleas for them to turn up to make sure their baby could receive the appropriate checks.
Ms Marten’s father, Napier Marten, a former page to the late Queen whose grandfather was 3rd Baron Alington, revealed yesterday that he and his family were ‘deeply concerned’ for the welfare of his ‘beloved’ daughter “and her baby.
The film’s producer said it was “beyond painful” to see her “so vulnerable” and suggested that she and her baby should be protected by the authorities.
Mr Marten spoke as Scotland Yard said it was following a number of ‘good leads’ after a flood of calls from the public about possible sightings of the couple.
The friend said she did not know how Ms Marten met Gordon, but she claimed her family had been concerned about her being with him.
She said: ‘The family met him very early on when they started dating and they came asking for money.
Constance’s ancestors: George Marten with his wife Mary and his daughters Victoria, Charlotte and Georgina
“They looked into his past and found that he had been in prison in the United States. They were worried about his case and informed him. His response was to batten down the hatches and stay with him. .
“He’s a very loyal person, but also very stubborn. That’s when he just fell off the face of the earth around 2015 or 2016.
“She was in contact with her family for a while, but none of her friends knew where she had been. Then she had no contact with anyone. She even changed the cell phone number she had for years
I know, he could be the love of her life and he might not be as bad as everyone claims, but he could also have that hold on her.
“It has been reported that she was living off a huge trust fund, but I don’t think that’s the case. It emerged that they lived in horrible places in London and had been evicted for not paying rent. That wouldn’t happen if she had access to a trust fund.
The friend added: “Growing up she was strong-minded and smart. I just hope she gets the help she needs.
Ms Marten’s father said in his appeal: “Dearest Constance, even though we remain distant, I stand ready, as I always have and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary. to get you back to us safely.
“I implore you to find a way to get you and your little one to the police as soon as possible so you and him can be protected. Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin.
“I also want you to understand that you are very, very much loved no matter the circumstances. We are deeply concerned for your well-being and that of your baby. To see you so vulnerable again is an extreme ordeal.
In an audio appeal, made through The Independent, he said the family had lived in “great concern”, knowing about Gordon’s past, “for some time”.
Police say Ms Marten’s life changed upon meeting Gordon. “At that point, the wealthy, normal and social aspects of Constance’s life come to a halt,” said Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Payne. “They are estranged from the family.”
Constance Marten – whose nickname was Toots – comes from an aristocratic family
Gordon was 14 when he raped a young neighbor at knifepoint after breaking into her Florida home and holding her captive for four hours with a pair of garden shears while her two children slept in the next room in 1989.
While on the run, he broke into a man’s home and hit him over the head with a shovel, according to US court documents.
He spent 20 years behind bars before being deported to Britain in 2010.
The Metropolitan Police have called on anyone with information about the couple’s whereabouts to call 020 7175 0785. Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.